Bouldering Essentials from Three Rock Books
reviewed by duncan
Well-timed for the calling of the grit and the present-giving season, this is a manual on to how to start bouldering and how to get pretty good at it. It is unashamedly, proudly, not a climbing instruction book. Ropes merit a brief mention, to check-out high-balls, but ladders get equal coverage. Look elsewhere if you want to learn how to tie a figure-of-eight.
First impressions are extremely good. This is an very well-produced book, clearly and attractively laid-out. The photos are a mix of instructional and inspirational. Most are new to me though one is a modern classic: Adam Long's of Michele Caminati - UKB's second-favourite Italian - on Angel's Share. A lovely image and a great illustration for the Footwork section. As we know, bouldering is something the cool kids do and the book certainly reflects this.
'Essentialsí warms-up with sections on gear and not hurting yourself. The core of the book is about improving performance. It is a store of knowledge and all but the most experienced will take something from it. The Training section is relatively brief, the emphasis throughout is on optimising movement rather than getting stronger. There is only so much that images on a page can convey about movement but, within these limitations, the illustrations are well-done. The chapter on strategy was particularly interesting, perhaps Iíll play a bit more seriously this winter. The tone throughout is that of a helpful mentor, there are many suggestions but few commandments, it is repeatedly emphasized this is a game with almost no rules.
Those of us that remember grass at the base of Deliverance have mixed feelings about the increase in participation. The rate of wear is unsustainable in popular areas, mainly due to sheer numbers but thoughtless behaviour by some accelerates this. Looking after the playground is covered in a short section opaquely titled Standards. I wished the author had dropped his measured tone a little here and pointed out more forcefully that we are destroying some of the rocks and places we love.
Bouldering Essentials succeeds in not only telling how to play but also inspires to get out there and do it. If you were wondering what to get your bouldering-curious new boyfriend for Christmas, now you know.